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Turkish race analysis - Hamilton's puncture blows things wide open 27 Aug 2007

Ferrari post race celebrations (L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari, second; Jean Todt (FRA) Ferrari Sporting Director; race winner Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 26 August 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 suffers a puncture.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 26 August 2007 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 26 August 2007 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault R27 leads Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 26 August 2007 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF107 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 26 August 2007

While it’s true that Lewis Hamilton had five or six laps’ more fuel than the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, that became a moot point when the Englishman’s McLaren blew its right front Bridgestone tyre on the 43rd lap of the Turkish Grand Prix. And in any case, even Hamilton only thought he might have been able to jump one of the red cars.

There will be much debate whether it was the fact the Ferraris both started on the medium (softer) tyres, and on the clean side of grid whereas the McLarens were on the hard tyres and the dirty side, that gave the F2007s the edge. Or whether third-place man Fernando Alonso was right that the Ferrari simply was the faster car this time out. The respective fastest laps were: Raikkonen 1m 27.295s; Massa 1m 27.922s; Hamilton 1m 27.963s; and Alonso 1m 28.070s, but Raikkonen’s time was perhaps a little misleading as it came right at the end when his fuel was at its lowest.

The bald facts, however, said that Ferrari scored their second one-two of the season, and McLaren suffered an unusual tyre failure that will need careful investigation. And that while McLaren have 148 points in the constructors’ championship, Ferrari now have 137. It’s not just the battle for the drivers’ world championship that is hotting up, especially after McLaren’s one-four result in Hungary (which is under appeal) did not yield any points.

Out of the main spotlight, the ever-reliable Nick Heidfeld drove another unobtrusive race for BMW Sauber. To begin with he played second fiddle to fast-starting team mate Robert Kubica, who had a lighter fuel load and the softer tyres. The Pole was the first to pit, after only 12 laps. Heidfeld was the next one in, but five laps later, and up until then he had yet again held off Alonso just as he did in France.

As Kubica struggled with his car, and a lack of speed which negated his adventurous strategy, Heidfeld said everything - strategy, team performance, car and tyres - was perfect. The result was yet further confirmation of the great job that the team are doing.

Where Heidfeld held on for fourth and five points, Kubica struggled to challenge Williams’ Nico Rosberg and had to be content with one, but the total of six took BMW Sauber to 77 overall, further cementing their third place overall.

Behind the recovered Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen again drove a charging race for Renault to comfortably outpace team mate Giancarlo Fisichella. Both drivers were in the thick of the first-corner action, Kovalainen getting pushed wide by Heidfeld, and Fisichella tapping Jarno Trulli into a spin. While Fisichella was left to rue the bodged getaway (he claimed that Trulli braked suddenly), Heikki said everything about his race was like Heidfeld’s once the tyres had come in: perfect. He also felt that the race finally endorsed the team’s claim from Nurburgring that new parts had facilitated an important step forward.

After some of his recent bad luck, Rosberg and Williams deserved a good run and they got it. The German had gone into qualifying hoping for a top 10 and believing that seventh or eighth would be a great result, and in the end he got the seventh, fending off Kubica from the second pit stops onwards to beat him fair and square. Team mate Alex Wurz was trapped in traffic most of the time, and finished a distant 11th, separated from Fisichella by David Coulthard. The Scot made the better start of the Red Bull duo and was in the thick of the battle for ninth all the way through. He described the behaviour of his RB3 as ‘inconsistent’, but at least made it home. Mark Webber’s race was over after a wobble going into Turn Five turned out to be caused by a hydraulic problem that interfered with his downshift.

Ralf Schumacher’s 12th place finish gave Toyota the upper hand over fellow Japanese contenders Honda and Super Aguri, but he was unhappy about his TF107’s performance on the hard tyres and didn’t particularly care for his one-stop strategy. But at least he fared better than Trulli, whose race was ruined by the bump with Fisichella.

Jenson Button knew that feeling, both he and Rubens Barrichello having to start at the back after their post-qualifying engine changes. The Brazilian was already 18th by the end of the opening lap, but gradually the Englishman hauled him in and Rubens was instructed over the radio to let Jenson past as the latter felt he was much quicker. Respective fastest laps of 1m 28.873s and 1m 29.513s tended to bear that out.

While Barrichello battled a car that he said moved about a lot from corner to corner, Button got his head down and pushed very hard, getting involved in several good skirmishes and said the team could be pleased with their performance even though 13th place was a poor result.

Had Anthony Davidson not got trapped behind Tonio Liuzzi’s Toro Rosso early on after getting forced wide in the Turn One melee, he might have been in a better position to challenge his old karting rival. But Liuzzi had a strong first lap to jump up to 12th place, and he drove superbly to keep a poor car in play, only losing out to the Super Aguri after the final stops.

Takuma Sato was less cheerful, losing places hand over fist at the start after having to brake very hard to avoid colliding with the Toyotas when Trulli was spun in Turn One. After that, he was virtually doomed thanks to his single-stop strategy, and where Davidson brought his SA07 home 14th, Taku had to settle for 18th.

Liuzzi continued to flog that Toro Rosso all the way home to 15th, comfortably outpacing team mate Sebastian Vettel, who took 19th. Liuzzi had a problem with a harsh upshift, while Vettel didn’t help himself by stalling in his first pit stop.

The only running car behind Vettel’s at the end was Sakon Yamamoto’s Spyker, and the Japanese driver achieved his aim of finishing the race even though low fuel pressure delayed him by stalling the engine in one pit stop. While he was running, Adrian Sutil was giving Vettel a hard time, but stalling in the pits and getting stuck in gear during his first stop obliged the team to push him into the garage for a restart because Yamamoto was due in. That cost him chunks of time, and he later retired in sight of the flag when he, too, suffered fuel pressure problems.

David Tremayne